Axens Marketing & Communications Vice President Eric Benazzi gives his insight on tomorrow’s energy landscape, highlighting 3 major trends affecting the downstream processing industry.
Integration of Refining and Petrochemical Assets
The first point I would like to address today is the integration of refining and petrochemical assets.
Even though the price of crude oil seems to stabilize between 50 & 60 $/bbl, 2017 remains a year with possible major price fluctuations. Global fuel demand growth should settle at 0.8% whereas the Petrochemical market should grow by 4%.
In these conditions, and more than ever, integration of refining and petrochemical sites will be required; first/ to mitigate risks related to raw material and product price variations, but also to overcome market trend changes and finally to improve asset profitability.
The second point I would like to highlight now is air quality.
For more than 20 years, gasoline and diesel have been reformulated and their sulfur content reduced to lower levels of airborne pollutants. Axens has greatly contributed to this evolution and we are proud of that. To curb air pollution, which has reached alarming levels in Chinese and Indian cities, governments are aggressively implementing fuel quality standards equivalent to Euro 6. As an example, this year in China, on-road fuels should contain less than 10-ppm sulfur and, by 2020 Indian refineries will have to produce Bharat 6 Standard fuels.
Another very important decision for the air quality, is the recent confirmation by the International Maritime Organization that the sulfur content of marine bunker fuels will be globally capped at 0.5 wt.% by 2020, versus 3.5 wt.% currently.
Those new regulations will require investment in additional hydroprocessing capacities.
The last point I would like to address is Climate Change.
According to the IEA, energy efficiency is one of the major levers to save direct GHG emissions. For a refinery, energy consumption represents between one to two-thirds of its total operating costs. It means that every fraction of energy savings is not only a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also to create value.
In order to tackle this challenge, based on its strong knowledge in process and technology, Axens offers an innovative approach: CEED, standing for “Custom and Efficient Early Design”. At the beginning of the basic engineering stage of a unit, the specific environmental priorities and constraints of the operator are identified; for instance energy efficiency, CO2 emissions, or water footprint. A study is then conducted by Axens, in a collaborative mode, to elaborate and evaluate several tailor-made options.
Such an approach ensures that the option that will be selected at the end is based on solid foundation optimizing both the environmental and economic aspects of the project.